Fearing myself close to some kind of breakdown over renewed stress as a result of my sister’s situation I realised I needed to do one of my favourite things to unwind. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my love for Westerns/Cowboy films.
Growing up in the UK in the 1970s one of my favourite past-times was going to the pictures (movies) with my Dad. Often on the weekend we would see three films in the one day, invariably Westerns.
When you live in a cold, bleak, grey, urban environment, the call of the wild, wild West is irresistible. Those wide open spaces of Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas with horses and cowboy boots, where the possibility of adventure could happen at any given moment, were my idea of paradise. I have spent countless afternoons roaming the wild frontier with the likes of John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Glenn Ford and Stewart Granger.
I have seen most Westerns from The Magnificent Seven when I was a kid to the remake of 3:10 To Yuma as an adult, and have enjoyed them all. But my favourite cowboy movie of all time is Shane starring Alan Ladd, which I watched today. It is still amazing.
Shane is a gunfighter who arrives in a quiet town and gets involved in a feud between homestead owners and cattlemen. Despite killing a few guys (as cowboys in movies tend to do) he values honour above all things and actually tells the little boy he befriends to stay away from guns.
I remember feeling intoxicated by this noble man who could just ride into a town, make a difference, and then ride out again. I wanted a Stetson, and boots and a horse. I wanted to ride the lonesome prairie with men called Hoss and Roscoe Lee. I wanted to take a rattler out with one shot and cook my dinner under the stars. I wanted to stand on a hilltop with the sun in my face and see forever.
Funny how the things you loved as a child, when revisited as an adult, still mean as much. I wanted to be a cowboy then. I still do.